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ecades at the top of the charts Parrot Records will close its doors for the last time tomorrow. The independent record store has been a big hit with Cambridge music fans for the last 20 years. But due to increased competition and rising rent, owner Linda Holmes has decided to call it a day. "It was a difficult decision to make as people have been coming here for around 20 years," she said.
"It would be OK if we were looking to run it as a hobby but that isn't the point really, is it?" According to Linda, the closure is down to a number of factors.New software, allowing people the option to download music directly off the internet has dented profits as well as the availability of CDs in supermarkets. "The fact that chart CDs are available in Tesco has bad repercussions for the industry," said Linda. Tesco aren't going to take a chance and stock unknown artists, are they?" The closure of the King Street store follows closely on the heels of Jays Records in Burleigh Street. Jays closed in the summer after 29 years of trading. Owner Jed Radford also cited recent changes in the music industry as the reason for calling it a day. "People can purchase music from their supermarket now or download it from the internet," he said.

And Ode to Parrot Records
Parrot Records - R.I.P.
Oh, how I will miss your cheap prices.
Your cheap, cheap prices.
They were so very, very cheap.
And you had decent music for sale as well.
And that man, with the stubble, behind the counter.
Used to sell me my CDs, from obscure bands,
That you couldn't get in HMV, and you wouldn't charge me more than a tenner.
Change for my bus fair home. Or a burger.

Parrot Records - "That's all folks!"

(Feb 24, 2014) dConfessions of Record shop worker.ean said:II worked in Parrot from the day it opened in November 1982(well, a week or two before it opened, as we had to get all the stock in place)until around June 1986. With no enforced playlist like those major shops, I got a total musical education from Phil and Simon the Manger and Assistant Manager. Being a 17 year old punk loving kid, I'd stuck to listening to punk and a bit of metal, but Simon would play anything from Marvin Gaye to Led Zeppelin, and Phil would be into new stuff like New Order and early electronic dance stuff. Of course the downside was having to listen to that yellow covered self titled 1983 Genesis lp with "Mama" on it, on heavy rotation when that came out, but it could have been worse and was a small price to pay.

It's surprising that the shop lasted as long as it did, as things started to go on the slide for the shop and its chain in general with the arrival of the cd and the megastores such as HMV and Virgin in 1985 - 86. By that time I recall I was "processing the faulties" out the back more than usual to recoup funds for the store, to try to appease the ferocious, terrier like owner Colin Holmes.
Some customers would bring stuff back as faulty not realizing that a sound effect wasn't surface noise; Dire Straits' "Love over Gold" lp was a good example, until it came out on cd and the "offending" static noise was still present at the end of "Telegraph Road". I had to send lots of those lps back, although there was nothing wrong with them, I think i used to have to bash the vinyl against a shelf so it did have some sort of visible fault - on the boss's instructions of course!

One time, we had to ban one chap who would repeatedly buy an lp, tape it then bring it back a couple of days later with some lame excuse, surface noise /it jumps /pressing fault ect, ect... I think he probably spent about 4.99 in total in the shop on one lp, and then used us as a library until he got banned by Simon one quiet afternoon a few months down the line. He'd always pick a different day to come in hoping to be served by someone different until Simon saw him trying to blag me and shoved me out of the way, stepping in and unleashing what was probably a real ale hangover on him. Although it might have been a dope hangover, as his coat always smelled a bit "exotic". I think I saw the banned guy (you know who you are!) in Andy's on Burleigh Street practicing the same scam later on.

Phil the manager left in 1984 to work at Backs Distribution I think. I left in 1986 to go to the enemy at HMV / Revolver as it was then, for more cash, but soon learnt a valuable lesson that a lower wage in small business was preferable to corporate bullshit day in day out, such was the experience with HMV. I should've stayed at Parrot, which was by then managed by the "man with the stubble" whose name was Bill, just for the record. I often wonder what happened to Simon Rouse? Anyway thanks for playing me some decent music, and paying me for the pleasure!

Oh happy days indeed...

Harlows store was the one I visited the most but popped into the Cambridge one on a couple of visits
A fantastic record shop whose only competition was probably our price as a standalone record store in harlow at the time.
I used to have a thing for imports and coloured vinyl records and parrot records always seemed to have interesting varied stock with many stores it had its day and eventually stood empty but for its shop logo but it did a brisk trade in the eighties a great shop which brings back good memories. Good to read the others feedback about the stores.
Johnny Oakes

remember being on holiday in August 1986 and bought loads of fantastic 12" singles from the Southend store, looking at the bag of my purchases and seeing where all the other stores were. Sadly, I never got to any of them BUT I'VE STILL GOT THE BAG!


Dave Harwood
15 Nov 2023 at 05:38
I found this address in the 'Suffolk & Essex Free Press' dated 18th June 1981: “Parrot Records, BALKERNE PASSAGE, COLCHESTER.”
… and this address in the 'Cambridge Daily News' dated 28th January 1983: “Parrot Records 93 KING STREET, CAMBRIDGE CB1 1LD.”


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